INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 21, 2008 – 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson and 2007 team world champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, both will sign autographs during the 2008 Visa Championships at Reliant Arena in Houston: Patterson on May 22-23 on the concourse, with Liukin signing autographs on May 23 at the AT&T Experience. The 2008 Visa Championships, USA Gymnastics’ national championships, runs from May 22-24 at Reliant Park and includes men’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling, featuring both junior and senior elite levels. In addition, the Visa Championships is an important stop for gymnastics’ road to Beijing: for the men, it is the qualifying event for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics, June 19-22 in Philadelphia; and for trampoline, it is the third of four events where athletes earn points toward Olympic selection.
Other great fan opportunities available at Reliant Arena on the concourse during the event include:
- Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. Kids can have fun and gain knowledge on the importance of fitness through the interactive Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. The course features activity in building strength, flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition. The Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone will open an hour prior to the evening competition sessions on May 22-24.
- Autographs. Patterson will sign autographs on the concourse from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, and from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23, prior to the start of competition. Other former gymnasts will be signing autographs on Saturday.
- AT&T Experience. Fans can enjoy several interactive entertainment activities, including checking out AT&T’s blueroom on the Internet and getting their photo taken in front of a gymnastics-themed green screen, as well as learn about AT&T products and services. Liukin, the 2007 team world champion and U.S. Olympic, will sign autographs at the AT&T Experience on Saturday, May 24, beginning at 5 p.m.
- In-house radio show. John Roethlisberger, a three-time U.S. Olympian, will provide commentary on the senior men’s competition at the Visa Championships on WGYM, USA Gymnastics’ radio show that is available in the arena. Receivers for the radio program are sold along with an event program onsite.
About the Visa Championships
On sale now, single-session ticket prices range from $20-85 for men’s gymnastics, with those for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline selling for $15 and $20. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 713-629-3700; online at www.ticketmaster.com; at all Ticketmaster outlets; or at the Reliant Stadium South Box Office. Visa is the only card accepted for the 2008 Visa Championships.
The field for the event includes the country’s best men’s artistic gymnasts, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling.
- Defending U.S. all-around champion David Durante of Garwood, N.J./Team Chevron, is one of 44 men scheduled to compete in the senior men’s division. Also slated to compete are Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Chevron, who finished fourth in the all-around at the 2007 World Championships; 2004 Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis./Team Chevron; and 2004 Olympic team silver-medalists Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., and Blaine Wilson of Columbus, Ohio. The men’s field breaks down into 44 seniors and 35 juniors, 17 in the 14-15 year-old age group and 18 in 16-18 year-old age bracket.
- The seven members of the U.S. Men’s Team that finished fourth at the World Championships are: Guillermo Alvarez of Denver/Team Chevron; Alexander Artemev of Lakewood, Colo./Team Chevron; Sean Golden, Camden of N.J./Team Chevron; Sho Nakamori of Albany, Calif./Stanford University; Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron; Durante and Horton. At the 2007 World Championships, Horton placed fourth in the all-around, and Alvarez and Tan finished fourth in the floor exercise and still rings, respectively.
- In addition to the seven world team members, Paul Hamm and Wilson, the members of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in the field are: Raj Bhavsar of Houston/Team Chevron; Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill./Stanford University; Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron; and Yewki Tomita of Tucson, Ariz./Team Chevron.
- 2007 U.S. trampoline champions Chris Estrada of Lafayette, La./OTC Trampoline Team, and Brittany Dircks of Orland Park, Ill./Ultra Twisters, seek to retain their titles. In addition to Dircks and Estrada, the other defending U.S. champions in the trampoline and tumbling senior division are: Alaina Williams of Amarillo, Texas/OTC Trampoline Team, women’s synchronized trampoline; Logan Dooley of Lake Forest, Calif./OTC Trampoline Team and Steven Gluckstein of Atlantic Highlands, N.J./Ultra Twisters, men’s synchronized trampoline; and Ludvigson, men’s tumbling and double mini. Erin Blanchard of Lafayette, La./OTC Trampoline Team, and Alaina Hebert of Broussard, La./OTC Trampoline Team, claimed the U.S. women’s trampoline titles in 2006, and in 2001 and 2005, respectively. The trampoline and tumbling field of 79 represents 19 states and includes 32 seniors and 47 juniors (two athletes are competing as seniors in one event and juniors in another).
- Eight athletes who claimed medals at the 2007 World Championships are scheduled to compete at the Visa Championships: Susannah Johnson of Roanoke, Va./Capital Gymnastics, Leanne Seitzinger of Stafford, Va./Novaks’ Gymnastics Center, and Kaitlin Tortorich of Fredericksburg, Va./Capital Gymnastics (women’s tumbling team gold medal); Kalon Ludvigson of Sterling, Utah/Team Revolution, Andrew Muzzarelli of Rockford, Ill./Gymnastics Academy of Rockford, and Stephen Raymond of Byron Center, Mich./Great Lakes Griffins (men’s double mini-trampoline team silver medal); Aubree Balkan of Carlsbad, Calif./Bounce California, and Sarah Prosen of Apple Valley, Minn./Gleason’s Gypsy Flyers (women’s double mini-trampoline team bronze medal). Ludvigson also won an individual bronze medal in men’s double mini.
- 2006-07 U.S. rhythmic all-around champion Lisa Wang of Buffalo Grove, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic looks to claim her third straight senior rhythmic gymnastics all-around title, and she also is the defending U.S. champion in the hoop and clubs. Other rhythmic gymnasts in the field include Rachel Marmer of Los Angeles/Eurogymnastics, the 2007 U.S. rope champion, and Julie Zetlin of Bethesda, Md./Rhythmflex, the 2007 U.S. ribbon champion. Marlee Shape of Buffalo Grove, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic, who competes in the junior division, earned four medals, including three gold medals in the all-around, hoop and ribbon, in 2007. The rhythmic field breaks down into 23 seniors and 26 juniors, representing 11 states.
The schedule for men’s artistic gymnastics is: Thursday, May 22—se